Israel is a Democracy

The Knesset at Center Stage

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By Senator Jim Inhofe
Seven reasons why Israel is entitled to the land they have.

1. All archeological evidence supports that Israelis had a presence there for 3,000 years. The coins, the cities, the pottery, the culture– there is no mistaking the fact that Israelis have been in that land for 3,000 years. It predates claims of any other peoples in the region, who do not have the unbroken line to this date that Israel has. The first Israelis are in fact descended from the original Israelites.

2. Israel’s right to the land is also historic. There has been an Israel up to the time of the Roman Empire, who conquered it. Israel had no homeland, but Jews were allowed to live there. They were driven from the land in 70 and 135, but there was always a Jewish presence. The Turks took over about 700 years ago and ruled the land until World War I. The Turks entered World War I with Germany, so the British sent troops against the Turks in the Holy Land. Allenby led the British and captured Jerusalem without a shot.

The British said they will give the Jewish people a homeland, and set aside all of what is now Israel and all of what was then the nation of Jordan–the whole thing.

There was no huge Arab population in the land at that time, because the land could not sustain a large population, and was not wanted by anybody.

It was considered worthless land. Mark Twain–Samuel Clemens– toured Palestine in 1867, and this is how he described it: A desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given over wholly to weeds. A silent, mournful expanse. We never saw a human being on the whole route. There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus almost deserted the country.”

Where was this great Palestinian nation? It did not exist. This is the report that the Palestinian Royal Commission, created by the British, made.

It quotes an account of the conditions on the coastal plain along the Mediterranean in 1913. They said: The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track, suitable for transport by camels or carts. No orange groves, orchards or vineyards were to be seen until one reached the Yavnev village. Houses were mud. Schools did not exist. The western coast was almost a desert. The villages were few and thinly populated, some were deserted.

The French author Voltaire described Palestine as “a hopeless, dreary place.” The nation became populated by both Jews and Arabs when Jews returned and reclaimed it. If there had never been any archaeological evidence to support Israel’s right of to the territory, other nations in the area have no longstanding claim either.

Did you know that Saudi Arabia was not created until 1913, Lebanon until 1920? Iraq did not exist until 1932, Syria until 1941; the borders of Jordan were established in 1946 and Kuwait in 1961. Any of these nations that would say Israel is only a recent arrival would have to deny their own rights as well.

3. The third reason that land belongs to Israel is practical. Israel is a marvel of agriculture, bringing more food out of a desert environment than any other country in the world. The Arabs ought to make Israel their friend and import Israeli technology that would allow the Middle East to become an exporter of food.

4. Israel has the right to the land on humanitarian grounds. Six million Jews perished in Europe in World War II. The persecution against the Jews had been very strong in Russia since communism. These people have a right to their homeland. They are not asking for a great deal. The whole nation of Israel would fit into my home state of Oklahoma seven times. Israel is very small. It is a nation that until the claims started coming in, was not desired by anybody.

5. Israel is a strategic ally of the United States. Whether we realize it or not, Israel is a detriment, an impediment to groups hostile to democracies and hostile to what we believe in, hostile to that which makes us the world’s greatest nation. They kept them from taking control of the Middle East. If not for Israel, they would overrun the region. It is good to know we have a friend in the Middle East on whom we can count. They vote with us in the UN more than England, Canada, France, Germany and any other country.

6. Israel is a roadblock to terrorism. The war we now face is not against a sovereign nation; it is against terrorists who move from one country to another. They are almost invisible. We need every ally we can get. If we do not stop terrorism in the Middle East, it will be on our shores. I believe the spiritual door was opened for an attack against the US in that the policy of our Government has been to pressure the Israelis not to retaliate significantly against the terrorist strikes launched against them.

Since its independence in 1948, Israel has fought four wars: The war in 1948 and 1949 for independence, the Sinai campaign in 1956; the Six-Day War in 1967; and in 1973, the Yom Kippur War on the holiest day of the year, and that was with Egypt and Syria. In all four cases, Israel was attacked. They won all four wars against impossible odds. They consider a level playing field being outnumbered 2 to 1.

Thirty nine Scud missiles landed on Israel during the Gulf war. In order to have the Arab nations on board, we asked Israel not to participate in the war. They showed tremendous restraint and did not. Now we asked them to stand back and not do anything after many attacks. We criticized them. Local people in television and radio often criticize Israel, not knowing the facts.

I was thrilled when a reporter posed a question to our Secretary of State, Colin Powell. He said: Mr. Powell, the United States advocates a policy of restraint in the Middle East. We discourage Israel from retaliating because we say it leads to escalation. Are we going to follow that preaching ourselves? Mr. Powell indicated we would strike back. I am so proud of them because we must stop terrorism. It is not going to go away. If Israel were driven into the sea tomorrow, terrorism would not end.

It is not just a matter of Israel. It is the heart of the very people who are perpetrating this stuff. Should they be successful in overrunning Israel, they will never be satisfied.

7. Israel has a right to the land because God said so. Look it up in Genesis. 13:14-17, the Bible says: The Lord said to Abram, “Raise your eyes, and look from the place where you are northward, and southward, and eastward and westward: for all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed forever … Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it to thee.”

That is G-d talking. The Bible says that Abram moved his tent and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, in Hebron,. Hebron is in the West Bank. It is where G-d appeared to Abram and said, “I am giving you this land,”–the West Bank. This is not a political battle. It is a contest over whether or not the word of G-d is true.

These seven reasons clearly establish that Israel has a right to the land. Eight years ago on the White House lawn, Yitzhak Rabin shook hands with PLO Chairman Arafat. It was a tragic occasion. At that time, the official policy of the Government of Israel began to be, “`Let’s appease the terrorists. Let trade land for peace.”

This process continued until last year. Here in our own Nation, at Camp David, in the summer of 2000, then Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak offered the most generous concessions to Yasser Arafat ever. He offered him more than 90 percent of all the West Bank territory. Some parts he did not want to offer, but in exchange he said he would give up land in Israel proper that the PLO had not even asked for. He also did the unthinkable, offering to divide Jerusalem and allow Palestinians to have their capital there. Everything he had said he wanted was offered. It was put into his hands. Why did Arafat storm out of the meeting?

Soon after, the riots began when Ariel Sharon went to the Temple Mount. Did you know that Sharon first contacted the Islamic authorities and secured their permission? It was no surprise. The response was carefully calculated. They would portray this in the Arab world as an attack on the holy mosque, and use it as an excuse to riot.

Over the last 8 years, during the peace process, when the Israeli public pressured its leaders to give up land for peace because they are tired of fighting, there has been increased terror, greater in the last 8 years than any other time.

Showing restraint and giving in has not produced peace. Even the leftist peace movement in Israel feels they were deceived. They offered a hand of peace, and it was not taken. The Israelis see that “No matter what we do, these people want to destroy us.” The PLO stationery has upon it the map of the entire state of Israel, not just the tiny little part they call the West Bank. They want it all. We must get out of this mindset that you can buy peace in the Middle East by giving plots of land.
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Dershowitz and tragedy
Caroline Glick
May 3, 2013

There are two main reasons that many leftists who are viscerally supportive of Israel have difficulty understanding and defending the Jewish state today. First, the storyline about Israel is deeply distorted.
For instance, this week, Freedom House released its annual report on press freedom around the world. Israel’s ranking was reduced from “free” to “partly free.”
Freedom House gave three reasons for downgrading Israel’s status: the prosecution of Haaretz reporter Uri Blau for holding stolen top-secret documents; Channel 10’s difficulties getting its broadcast license renewed; and the success of the Israel Hayom newspaper. As Jonathan Tobin at Commentary noted Wednesday, all of these reasons are fraudulent.
Uri Blau received thousands of top secret documents from Anat Kamm, who stole them from the office of OC Central Command at the end of her military service. The documents were not mere intelligence analyses. They were operational plans, unit information and other highly sensitive information.
Blau lied to investigators who asked him about the documents. He fled to London for months rather than speak to investigators or return the documents.
Yet because Israel prosecuted Blau for these acts – which are felonies – Freedom House decided that Israel constrains press freedom.
Then there is Channel 10. Channel 10 is a poorly managed, unsuccessful company that has gone broke. It owes NIS 110 million which it cannot pay back, including NIS 60m. to the state.
Due to its nonpayment of its debt to the state, the Knesset was set to vote down the renewal of its broadcast license – again, in accordance with the law. To protect themselves from market forces – Channel 10’s failed management and staff used their bully pulpit to deflect attention away from their failure and incompetence. They accused the Knesset of trying to silence free speech. Channel 10’s allies in the media and the political Left joined their anti-government bandwagon. The Knesset folded.
Channel 10’s license was renewed. And its debt to taxpayers remains unpaid.
As for Israel Hayom, Freedom House alleged that the free paper’s success in gaining market shares at the expense of other tabloids is part of a nefarious plot by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his friend and Israel Hayom owner Sheldon Adelson to establish a quasi-state-controlled media. Israel Hayom is the first mass circulation Israeli newspaper not aligned with the political Left.
Freedom House’s allegations against Adelson and Netanyahu and its championing of bankrupt Channel 10 are based on two guiding notions. First, non-leftist entities – the Knesset, Israel Hayom’s editorial board – are inherently opposed to press freedom while the motives of leftist institutions like Haaretz and Channel 10 are as pure as the driven snow.
Second, they imply that media in Israel can only be free if not subjected to market forces or the rule of law.
Clearly both of these underlying assumptions are absurd. Yet they form the basis of Freedom House’s damaging allegations against the government.
And that’s the thing of it.
Over the past generation, we have been inundated by disinformation from an unlimited number of seemingly credible organizations whose aim is to discredit any development related to Israel that does not advance the positions of the Left. And due to the ubiquity of this disinformation, among wider and wider circles today the belief has taken hold that there is something fundamentally illegitimate about non-leftist Israelis and non-leftist supporters of Israel.
Since most Israelis are not leftist, and since the most outspoken supporters of Israel are not leftists, there is a widening belief – particularly among liberals – that Israelis, Israeli institutions and Israel’s supporters are illegitimate.
This brings us to the second reason that it has become so difficult for Americans – and particularly liberal American Jews – who viscerally support Israel, to defend or even understand the Jewish state today.
There is a Western tendency, most pronounced on the anti-colonialist Left, to ignore the nature of the Islamic world generally and the Palestinians in particular, and concentrate their attention on Israel alone.
Case in point is Harvard Law Prof. Alan Dershowitz.
Dershowitz is rightly considered one of Israel’s most outspoken defenders in the US. But like his fellow leftist ideologues, Dershowitz apparently does not think that it is important to focus on the nature of things in the Islamic world. Rather than notice current realities, he places his faith in his power to shape the future through his intellect and his willingness to compromise.
In an interview with New York Jewish Week following his participation at Sunday’s Jerusalem Post’s conference in New York, Dershowitz said he was astonished by both my remarks on Iran and the audience’s response to my remarks.
He told the paper, “She said, ‘Bombs away,’ and they gave her a standing ovation.”
One of the things that distinguish the Post’s readers from most other news consumers is that our readers have educated themselves in the realities of Israel and the region and pay attention to those realities.
As a consequence, they are less affected by anti-Israel propaganda presented as human rights reports than the vast majority of news consumers in the US.
When I addressed the conference, I said I would limit my discussion of Iran to two words, “Bombs away.” I said that because like the Post’s readers, I base my analysis of Iran’s nuclear weapons program on the nature of the Iranian regime.
The Iranian regime is a totalitarian regime. It has an uninterrupted record of torturing and massacring its citizens. It has threatened to annihilate Israel. It is the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.
Economic sanctions are only viable against regimes that care about serving their citizenry. A regime that represses its citizens is not going to be moved from its strategic course by international sanctions that embitter the lives of its citizens. Since the Iranian regime does not care about its citizens, it cannot be diverted from its plans to acquire nuclear weapons through economic sanctions, no matter how harsh.
As for reaching an agreement with the Iranian regime that would induce it to end its nuclear weapons program, this aspiration is similarly based on a denial of the nature of the regime. The first act of the regime was to reject the foundations of the international system. The Iranian takeover of the US Embassy in 1979 was not merely an act of war against America. It was a declaration of war against the international legal system. Since then, nothing the Iranian regime has done, including emerging as the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, has brought it closer to accepting the norms of behavior expected from a member of the family of nations. As a consequence, the notion that this regime would honor any nuclear agreement it may sign with the US or any other international party is ridiculous.
Since traditional forms of statecraft that do not involve the use of force are not viable options for statecraft involving Iran, the only viable option for preventing Iran – particularly at this late stage – from becoming a nuclear power is force. If Israel is serious when it says that a nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat to the Jewish state then Israel must attack Iran’s nuclear installations.
Because the Post’s readers are informed about the nature of the Iranian regime, they appreciated the message I telegraphed in saying “Bombs away.”
But Dershowitz was astonished.
Jewish Week asked Dershowitz about the Jerusalem Post conference because during a panel discussion he and I participated in about the Palestinian conflict with Israel, he angrily attacked the audience for laughing at his plan for renewing negotiations between Israel and the PLO and I angrily rebuked him for doing so.
Dershowitz told the audience that he had presented a plan to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that involved Israel abrogating Jewish property rights in select areas of Judea and Samaria through a so-called settlement freeze. In exchange, the Palestinians would agree to suspend their efforts to delegitimize and criminalize Israel at the UN and the International Criminal Court.
In other words, Dershowitz put forth a plan – which he said Abbas responded positively to – that would require Israel to take a step not required by the agreements it already negotiated with the PLO. And in exchange, the Palestinians would temporarily suspend actions they are taking in material breach of the agreements they signed with Israel.
By advocating this “bargain,” Dershowitz revealed that his conception of the Palestinians is based on willful blindness to their nature that equals his apparent blindness to the nature of the Iranian regime.
Last Saturday, Abbas gave a speech in which he said that Israel’s commitment to the peace process will be measured by its willingness to release Palestinian terrorists from its jails. Last month, Abbas sent his representative to visit the families of jailed Palestinian mass murderers to express his solidarity with them and his admiration for their sons’ crimes.
As Aaron Lerner from IMRA pointed out earlier this week, by insisting that all Palestinian terrorists be freed from Israeli prisons, Abbas is saying that there is nothing criminal or wrong about murdering or attempting to murder Israelis. This position alone discredits him as a peace partner.
Abbas’s steadfast refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist, and his unceasing political warfare against Israel – in breach of signed agreements between Israel and the PLO – are just further proof that he is not a credible partner for peace.
Then there is the nature of the Palestinian people themselves. Unlike the Iranians, who desperately wish to overthrow their regime, according the results of a new Pew survey of the Arab world, Palestinians want more tyranny.
To the extent they oppose their regime, they do so because it is too open. Among other things, 87 percent of Palestinians say a wife must always obey her husband; 89% want to be ruled by Islamic law, and 62% support the death penalty for leaving Islam.
More Palestinians support terrorism against civilians than do citizens in any other Muslim society polled.
Post readers are apparently as familiar with the nature of Palestinians society as they are with the nature of the Iranian regime. And this is why they laughed at Dershowitz’s plan for restarting negotiations.
Angered at the audience’s response, Dershowitz lashed out against it. He said the thousand people in the hall were irrelevant, that no one listens to them, and that it is good that no one listens to them.
Dershowitz is rightly respected by Zionists across the political spectrum for his willingness to defend Israel against its detractors. And this makes his contemptuous treatment of an audience of its supporters at the conference more tragic than infuriating.
It is the tragedy of our times that basically decent liberals like Dershowitz dismiss as marginal those who base their assessments of Israel and the Middle East on reality, rather than on policy paradigms that are the stuff of negotiations textbooks at Harvard.
It is the tragedy of our times because the people he holds in greatest contempt are the people who have been right about Israel, and about Iran and the Palestinians, time after time after time.
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End the Shenanigans and form a government!
Isi Leibler
February 10, 2013

End the Shenanigans and form a Government

The excessively slow pace of Israel’s electoral and political systems impose dysfunction at a time when a strong, strategically-directed government is desperately needed.

This is highlighted by the excruciatingly slow coalition building process preceded by the lengthy pre-election campaign. The head of the leading party designated by the president to form the next government has 28 days to build a coalition with an option of an additional 14 days.

To have a hiatus of 3 to 4 months during which the outgoing government functions as a lame-duck, would be intolerable for any country. However, in the context of the extraordinary pressures and existential challenges currently confronting Israel – in particular the expansion of radical Islam in the neighborhood and the critical emerging security threats on all its borders – the absence of effective government for such a long period is appalling.

A strong government is also urgently required to formulate responsible economic and social policies to preempt a domestic crisis – which could ultimately also impact on security.

Moreover, with President Obama scheduled to make his first visit to Israel in the near future, a government with a strategic plan and a unified diplomatic approach is an essential prerequisite. That cannot be achieved if a government is formed only days before the presidential visit.

In light of this, the ongoing shenanigans delaying the formation of a government are a monumental display of irresponsibility by all political parties. This is surely a time when the national interest requires that those elected to office recognize their obligation to concentrate on speedily creating a government. Ideally they would suspend their personal agendas and avoid dragging out the negotiation process in order to jostle for ministerial portfolios.

Remarkably, notwithstanding all the media babble and despite the substantial erosion of Likud-Beiteinu electoral support, Netanyahu is in a uniquely advantageous position to create a genuinely broad coalition. With the exception of the radical Arab parties and Meretz, a genuine centrist consensus in relation to the peace process dominates the political arena. The vast majority of Israelis have no desire to rule over Palestinians and, given a genuine peace partner, would be relieved to separate from them. Even the hawkish Bayit Yehudi would welcome the opportunity of entering the government in the absence of dramatic changes leading to the emergence of a Palestinian state – which is currently not even on the horizon.

Indeed, Yair Lapid – mistakenly dubbed by much of the media as a center leftist –unequivocally committed Yesh Atid to maintaining the unity of Jerusalem and retaining the settlement of Ariel within Israel. He did undertake to pursue negotiations with the Palestinians, but after Mahmoud Abbas responded to Netanyahu’s most recent offer to negotiate without preconditions by demanding a settlement freeze (including all of Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods) and the release of all imprisoned terrorists – there is little doubt that Lapid and Netanyahu would have identical responses to such intransigence.

Despite Shelley Yachimovitch having pledged not to join a Netanyahu government, she admits that today many of her party members are pressing her to do so. Even Tzipi Livni, despite her former histrionics against Netanyahu, is now also almost desperate to join the government. This confirms that in spite of all the posturing, a broad political consensus prevails.

The sole major issue which remains a barrier towards creating a broad national government is the commitment by many parties to introduce reforms to preclude the non-Zionist and inflexible ultra-Orthodox rabbis from exclusively controlling state religious policies.

The most emotional aspect of this is “equalization of the burden” in relation to haredim serving in the Army or National Service. There is also the need to steer them into the workforce, weaning them away from long term reliance on state welfare.

In contrast to his late father, Yair Lapid has been extremely reasonable in his approach to the haredim. Many even consider his proposal to progressively introduce the draft over a five year period to be too gradual. But despite this, the ultra-0rthodox are threatening to go to the barricades and seeking to exploit emerging tensions between Netanyahu and Lapid.

Throughout the election campaign, Lapid was a role model for moderation and restraint. Most politicians harbor dreams of ultimately becoming Prime Minister. But he blundered when in response to a rhetorical question in a TV interview he said that he visualized himself displacing the current prime minister within 18 months – a remark which certainly would not have contributed to Netanyahu’s comfort level with an impending new partner.

The desperate haredim are already capitalizing on this. Indeed, despite Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef having described Bayit Yehudi leaders during the elections as “goyim”, Shas leaders have appealed to them not to support efforts to draft their followers. They seem to have even convinced some of the more stringent religious Zionist rabbis to exert pressure on Bennett to soften his position. Should they succeed, Bennett and Bayit Yehudi would be discredited and may lose a precious opportunity to restore religious Zionism to its rightful place in a Zionist state.

In this context Netanyahu is making Bennett’s position more difficult by publicly humiliating him, meeting with him only after his consultations with Meretz, Labor, Tzipi Livni and even the radical Arab parties. Irrespective of former confrontations, such personal displays of animus by the Prime Minister are misplaced and do not display him in a favorable light.

Netanyahu and Lapid should stop posturing and speedily reach an accommodation regarding the haredi imbroglio. Many Shas supporters already serve in the army. Once appropriate legislation has been passed requiring haredim to serve in the IDF or National Service, Shas may still seek to join the government. The Aguda (United Torah Judaism) would probably stay out which would not be a great loss.

On the other hand, should Netanyahu form another narrow government which would continue to be subject to extortion by the ultra-orthodox and obliged to substitute genuine efforts to draft haredim with mere cosmetic gestures, the electorate would be outraged. Besides, a narrow government under the current circumstances would almost certainly only have a very limited duration. In the ensuing elections irate Israelis would undoubtedly severely punish those leaders – in particular Netanyahu – for failure to create a broad government.

With the impending visit to the region by President Obama there is a desperate need to present a united front in relation to policies regarding Iran and the Palestinians. To achieve this, our politicians have an urgent obligation to cease posturing and form a broad national government.

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